Ah, Summer. Time for lemonade, parties and bar-b-ques. And if you’re pale like me, lots and lots of sunscreen! But aside from the grill, food, and a decent patio set, what else do you need to throw the best summer party? Here’s my guide to make your next summer get-together one to remember!
Now that my beautiful garden is finished (you can read more about in in my Raised Flower Bed Project post) and my house has some form of curb appeal, I’m itching to invite people over again. And being from the South, if there is one thing I know, it’s how to entertain guests. Don’t get me wrong, it can be stressful sometimes. But these are some of my favorite things to have when I invite people over to eat/drink, and a few tips to make having people over stress-free!
Snack / Appetizer
I don’t know about you, but when I show up to a party, I am ready to eat. Down here, you can almost guarantee the host/hostess put out some form of food – chips/dip, cheese/crackers, veggie tray, etc. Which is great if you’re like me and show up ready to chow down. So my first tip is just that – have some sort of snack/appetizer for your guests that is ready when they arrive. My favorite thing to make? Slow-cooker queso. People serious go crazy over it and it is literally the easiest thing to make.
First get your slow-cooker out and add your handy slow-cooker liner. These things are absolutely amazing. Do you own a slow-cooker? Yes? Then you need these in your life. They make clean-up a breeze, and since discovering them I can honestly say I use my crock pot way more often! After putting in your liner, set your slow cooker to low then add in cubed Velveeta cheese and a can of Rotel Original.
While that’s all melting together, brown some Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage in a pan (you can use regular ground beef also). Once cooked, add the meat to your slow-cooker. Occasionally stir everything around as it’s melting, and once completely melted, switch your slow-cooker to the warm setting (or the lowest heat setting). Serve with your favorite tortilla chip (I prefer to use Tostitos Scoops), preferably ones that are a bit sturdy!
Next essential item? Something to drink. I usually always have my guests bring whatever alcoholic beverage they plan of drinking, but I have basics like soda, mixers and water. Don’t forget the ice! I also sometimes make a large batch of lemonade depending on how many people I invited. Because what is more refreshing on a hot summer day? I serve it in a glass drink dispenser I have set up next to a tray with my ice bucket, cups, and straws.
I’ve actually been looking at getting this drink dispenser that comes is two smaller jars and comes with a stand!
If you read my Weekend Project Updates post, you might have noticed a bonus lemonade recipe. That is my go-to lemonade recipe and it is always a hit! The last time I made it, I actually blended in some strawberries with my simple syrup before mixing everything together, making a delicious strawberry lemonade. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed it a few weeks ago! I had originally planned for it to be alcoholic, but decided to just place the bottle on the side instead for people to add it if they wanted. Now that my garden is all planted and I have fresh mint, I’m excited to make mint lemonade next time!
The last gathering I hosted, there were only a few people. While I had my backyard jenga set all set up, no one played it. We were perfectly fine talking and joking around the entire time. But for larger groups of people where you can’t all talk at once, make sure you have something for guests to do other than talk in small groups.
As I’ve mentioned several times before, I live in south Louisiana. We have more mosquitoes than people down here it seems, so tiki torches filled with some kind of fuel with citronella is an absolute must. If you don’t have a mosquito problem, the torches will provide some light as it starts to get dark and keep away other biting insects that may bother your guests. My mom has these cute lanterns at her house, and they work like a charm to keep the mosquitoes away!
Everyone loves a little something sweet after eating so much grilled food. You definitely don’t need much. While I cheat for bigger groups and just pick up a tray of cookies or something from the store, I usually bake something for smaller parties. Brownies, cupcakes, cookie cake. You name it, I’ve baked it. The easier to eat, the better it is. Stick to something everyone likes, and that you don’t have to fuss with to serve to guests. I also bake everything either in a pan lined with foil, or in a recyclable foil pan. Less dishes I have to deal with later!
Ice cream is also another fun option. What’s better on a hot summer afternoon? You can easily pick up ice cream from the store, or you can try your hand at churning your own! While it isn’t big enough to make ice cream for a large group, I love this. We got this Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer attachment for Christmas, and adore it. We also scored Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Recipe Book for free through my Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription , and their ice cream base recipes are amazing.
Tips to Make Hosting Stress-Free:
- Be sure to tell guests what time food will be served as well as when things start. If your party starts at 2 but food isn’t ready until 5, they might want to grab something to eat before they show up so they don’t eat all the chips!
- Serve everything in disposable or easily washable containers for quick clean-up
- Make sure the sink and dishwasher are both empty prior to everything starting to make sure any dirty dishes can immediately be cleaned up
- Prep as much as you can ahead earlier that day or the day before so you have everything ready to go when guests start to arrive
- Have an empty trash bag/can available and in a spot guests can see it so you don’t have to pick up as much trash
- Have recyclable plastic/paper cups, plates, utensils, and napkins for guests to use to save time doing the dishes later
- Don’t plan a complicated menu – that’s what small dinner parties and holidays are for. The simpler, the better
- If a guest asks you if they should bring anything, respond honestly. If you need ice, have them pick it up. Don’t say no just to be polite!
- Clean your house the day before your party. Then you won’t be running around cleaning the day of
- And as a bonus tip: If you live anywhere remotely in the South, have some extra mosquito repellent spray on hand in case they start biting. The citronella tiki touch fuel works wonders, but it won’t get rid of them all.
And that does it! Do you have any Summer parties planned? What are some of your party essentials?
Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!